Gartner’s Bittman: Private Cloud’s value as Stepping Stone

October 23, 2009

NoBigSwitchYesterday Gartner distinguished analyst Tom Bittman, who covers cloud computing and virtualization,  posted some thoughts and observations from the Gartner Symposium in Orlando.

Private Cloud-o-maina

Based on Tom’s observations, private cloud (however defined) seems to have captured the hearts and minds of IT.  Before he began his talk on virtualiztion he did a quick poll asking how many in the audience considered private cloud computing to be a core strategy of theirs.  75% raised their hands.  While not overly scientific, that’s a pretty big number.

Little Miss Appropriation

The logical next question one may ask is what do people mean when they say “private cloud.”  According to Tom the three most common ways private clouds are being (mis) described are:

  • IT defending its turf: Shared services that were being re-labelled as private clouds (but without a self-service interface, or much automation at all)
  • Vendors defending their products: Old products being re-labelled as private clouds in a box (I described most of these as “lipstick on a pig”)
  • Advanced server virtualization deployments: Although few have a true self-service interface, the intention is certainly there

So it looks like there is quite a bit of misappropriation of the term.  However,  as we previously learned,  just because there is hype and misuse of terms, doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the concept of “private cloud.”  The question is what is that value?

Tom sees private cloud’s value as a means to end and concludes his post by saying

The challenge with private cloud computing, of course, is to dispel the vendor hype and the IT protectionism that is hiding there, and to ensure the concept is being used in the right way – as a stepping-stone to public cloud… [italics mine]

(I’m not your) Stepping Stone

This is where I disagree.  I believe that while private cloud can be a path to the public cloud, it can also be an end unto itself.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) we will always have heterogeneous environments and in the future that will mean a mixture of  traditional IT, virtualized resources, private clouds and public clouds.  In some case workloads will migrate from virtualizaiton out to the public cloud but in other cases they will stop along the way and decide to stay.

IT will become more efficient and more agile as the cloud evolves but there will be no Big Switch (see above illustration), it (IT) will need to manage a portfolio of computing models.

Pau for now…

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